Empowering young, newly arrived refugees through education


Over the last five years, around 40,000 people have been registered as refugees in the Netherlands. Every year, more than 1000 unaccompanied minors (UAMs) seek refugee protection in The Netherlands. Eritrean, Syrian and Moroccan take the largest share (Eurostat 2017).

When they arrive, these young people are faced with major challenges arising from multiple issues: language barrier, psychological issues such as post traumatic syndrome, nutritional deficiency, deteriorated health, and so on. This makes their integration through education or work ever more difficult.

Our main challenge consists in helping marginalized UARs, with refugee or residency status, that are outside social workers’ radar, especially those that stopped collecting social welfare benefits, have serious needs and are exposed to various dangers. They are in extremely precarious situations which is why our intervention is urgent and necessary.


Educational demands on young people are increasing. Studies indicate that roughly 80% of newly arrived students score significantly worse than their classmates, leading to significant demotivation on their part.

They are then more likely to drop out of school and may even engage in criminal activities. High results and successful careers become nearly unattainable.

In this negative environment, interventions are needed more than ever to get them back on track and ensure success.

We focus our attention on vulnerable refugees from Eritreans, Syrians, Iranians, Afghans.

We carefully select our members based on specific criteria, most importantly motivation and potential for success. As language barrier is one of their biggest challenge, we do not require language skills to take part in this project; they are merely a plus.

Holistic approach

We believe that the downward trend can be reversed by adopting a holistic approach to the education of these young people. This year, starting with 15 unaccompanied refugees from 18 to 22 years old, we aim to empower these young people and give them a chance to adapt to their educational setting and social environment through trainings (cultural awareness, soft skill development and vocational skills), internships and mentoring. We are focusing on adolescents who are registered in The Netherlands since 2015 and have a high motivation to integrate in to the society and the labour market.

The idea is that the young people, their families, their schools and their communities join forces with local partners (municipalities and NGOs), to exchange best practices and expertise, to create a broader social network, and ultimately to provide a healthier lifestyle

UW-NL wants to help achieve this objective by also introducing well trained professionals and volunteers to this project, so the unaccompanied refugees receive a more complete guidance and can then specialize in accordance to their skills.

15 a year

By the end of the project, our 15 Unaccompanied Adolescent Refugees will possess acute self-awareness, will be autonomous, and eventually secure a working position.